The issue of our times, indeed the issue for the modern Democratic Party is whether or not this group of Democratic leaders has the stomach to wage that fight even if they lose. It is not a partisan issue: legislative branch prerogatives hang in the balance here because the Congress will be eviscerated if this fight is not waged now. If the Democrats fail to force this issue now, their entire ability to oversee this administration and provide any kind of check and balance will evaporate. We will never find out what happened with the Cheney Energy Task Force; what happened with the prewar intelligence; what happened with the corruption and mismanagement of the occupation; and what happened on a host of issues where the American taxpayers deserve an accounting. But finally, failure to fight the Bush White House here would simply validate the Cheney approach to lie to Congress without consequence.
And yes, there is another issue here as well. Democrats have watched in horror these last six years as their party leaders inside the Beltway have shrunk from their obligations to their party and country to provide an effective opposition and alternative. We have lost a good deal of our Bill of Rights during this time right underneath the noses of the Congress, and our foreign policy is by decree. The Democratic leadership needs to demonstrate now that it is worthy of the support given to it by not only the party but also millions of independent voters last November.
Failure to say "enough" to this cabal now, even if it risks a loss in the courts down the road, will have severe political consequences. Independents will observe that there really is no difference between the parties after all, but worse, millions of Democrats may decide that the modern party itself has run its course and that it is time for another movement.
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